April 4, 2019

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Electoral College Was Not a Pro-Slavery Ploy.

Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz:

Slaveholders didn’t embrace the idea of electors because it might enlarge slavery’s power; they feared it because of the danger, as the North Carolina slaveholder Hugh Williamson remarked, that the men chosen as electors would be corruptible “persons not occupied in the high offices of government.” Pro-elite concerns, not proslavery ones, were on their minds — just as, ironically, elite supporters of the Electoral College hoped the body would insulate presidential politics from popular passions.

When it first took shape at the convention, the Electoral College would not have significantly helped the slaveowning states. Under the initial apportionment of the House approved by the framers, the slaveholding states would have held 39 out of 92 electoral votes, or about 42 percent. Based on the 1790 census, about 41 percent of the nation’s total white population lived in those same states, a minuscule difference. Moreover, the convention did not arrive at the formula of combining each state’s House and Senate numbers until very late in its proceedings, and there is no evidence to suggest that slavery had anything to do with it.

Read the whole thing.

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